Part of our responsibilities as Folkloristas is to research using books, newspapers, archives, oral histories, and bodily transmissions. We need to fully engage as practitioners of our art form. Our choreographies need to be grounded in theory, text, oral/bodily accounts, and especially in history to create and/or transmit them. Part of this process involves collecting books written by scholars/artists that we can use as a reference. Every Folklorista that I know has their own book collection that they use to inspire their choreographies and learn more about our history. So, this month I decided to share with you my favorite books that have helped me as a scholar, writer, and choreographer. So, here it goes…
El Jarabe: Baile Popular Mexicano (1937) and Historia de la Música en México (1934) by Gabriel Saldívar.
Saldívar (1909-1980) was a scholar whose writings are so important to the study of Mexican music and dance. Both these books have an in depth account of the history of Mexico intertwined with music and dance influences. Saldívar wrote so many important books including the Historia Compendiada de Tamaulipas and Los Indios de Tamaulipas to name a few. I still refer to his work when thinking and writing about folkloric dance.
Trajes Regionales Mexicanos de la Colecion de Luis Márquez (1970) and Mexican Folklore: One Hundred Photographs by Luis Márquez (1955)
Famous Mexican photographer Luis Márquez (1899-1978) captured many of photographs of Indigenous and Mexican people. He knew Alura Flores de Angeles the “Godmother of Mexican Dance” (1905-2000). He is said to have at times used Alura’s extensive costume collection for his photographs. His work was printed in postcards, magazines, etc.
A Treasury of Mexican Folkways: The Customs, Myths, Folklore, Traditions, Beliefs, Fiestas, Dances, Songs of the Mexican People (1947) by Frances Toor.
Frances Toor (1890-1956) was a folklorist from the United States who is best known for her ethnographic writings on Mexican culture. This book has pictures and detailed accounts of rituals, ceremonies, and fiestas of Mexico that took place in the early 20th century. It gives us a clue on the ways people danced at this time period. Another favorite is her publication called Mexican Folkways. I have found two articles written by Alura Flores De Angeles “God Mother of Mexican Dance” in Mexican Folkways which she describes the dances of Mexico.
Ritmos Indígenas de México (1940) by Nellie and Gloria Campobello
Two pioneers in the Dance field are sisters Nellie and Gloria Campobello. Nellie Campobello was born in 1900 while Gloria Campobello was born in 1911. Nellie would later write a book of poems describing her experiences of having lived through the Mexican Revolution (Cartucho: Relatos de la Lucha en el Norte de México). Both sisters investigated Indigenous dances, taught in the Cultural Missions, and were employed as teachers in the National Music and Dance Section of the Department of Fine Arts of the Secretary of Public Education. In Ritmos Indígenas de México, they advise investigators to use their bodies as an instrument to interpret the dances of Mexico. Talk about ahead of their time; this is the theme of Dance Studies in 2018. Later on, the Campobello sisters would be instrumental in forming the National Ballet of Mexico with Gloria becoming known as Mexico’s first prima ballerina.
Mexican Native Dances, Trajes Regionales de México, and Mexican Native Costumes by Luis Covarrubias.
I have my own collection of books written by Covarrubias. His books are amazing with so much details. The pictures of dancers are beautifully hand drawn by Covarrubias and are accompanied by written descriptions of the dances. He has written so many more books. I am always on the hunt collecting his books.
El Corrido Mexicano (1954) by Vicente T. Mendoza
Vicente T Mendoza (1894-1864) was a musician and scholar. My favorite book of his is El Corrido Mexicano because he carefully defines, describes and details the history of the corrido. He then documents the lyrics and musical stanzas of 172 different corridos. He also wrote La Canción Mexicana: Ensayo de Clasificación y Antología and so many other books which are very important.
El Jarabe: El Jarabe Ranchero o Jarabe de Jalisco: Versión Recopilada Por Francisco Sánchez Flores. (1988) by Josefina LaValle
LaValle writes of the history of the jarabes. Then, she analyzes the jarabe of Jalisco or the jarabe ranchero. Here, she included valuable drawings, musical stanzas, and accounts as told by Dr. Francisco Sánchez Flores. Included is a biography of Dr. Francisco Sánchez Flores who is a known for choreographing La Culebra.
I have so many more books that I truly love to read. Perhaps I will leave these for another day. Well, these are just a few of my favorites. Which ones are yours?
Campobello, Nellie and Gloria Campobello. Ritmos Indígenas de México. México: n.p., 1940.
Covarrubias, Luis. Mexican Native Costumes. Mexico D.F.: Eugenio Fischgrund, n.d.
—.—. Mexican Native Dances. Mexico D.F.: Eugenio Fischgrund, n.d.
—.—. Trajes Regionales de México.Mexico D.F.: Eugenio Fischgrund, n.d.
Lavalle, Josefina. El Jarabe: El Jarabe Ranchero o Jarabe de Jalisco: Versión Recopilada Por Francisco Sánchez Flores. México, D.F.: Centro Nacional de Investigación, Documentación e Información de la Danza “José Limón,” INBA, 1988.
Márquez, Luis and Justino Fernandez. Mexican Folklore: One Hundred Photographs by Luis Márquez. Mexico: Eugenio Fischgrund. 1955.
Márquez, Luis and Luis Hurtado, Manuel Quesada Brandi. Cuernavaca: Ediciones Singulares de Manuel Quesada Brandi. 1970
Saldívar, Gabriel. El Jarabe: Baile Popular Mexicano. Lecturas Históricas De Puebla. Mexico: Talleres Graficos de la Nacion, 1937.
—. —. Historia de la Música.México, 1934 .D.F.: SEP Ediciones Gernika, 1987.
Toor, Frances. “El Jarabe Antiguo y Moderno.” Mexican Folkways. 6.1 (1930): 26-37
—.—. A Treasury of Mexican Folkways. 1947. New York: Crown Publishing, 1973.